Sunday, September 23, 2007

U.S. Tries to Silence Middle East Elected Leaders

Recent actions by U.S. officials may be targeted to silencing elected leaders in neighboring Iraq and Iran. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the revocation of Blackwater Security's license after an incident killing many of his citizens. Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice responded by limiting diplomatic forays outside the green zone for several days. However, by Friday Blackwater was back to full operations. It appears the Iraqi President has less power in his own country than the U.S. Secretary of State.

The second incident involved American soldiers capturing an Iranian representative on official visit to the Kurdistan region. The U.S. military said the detainee is a member of an elite Iranian unit that has been accused of training and equipping insurgents in Iraq, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force. The capture upset Iraqi President Jalal Talabani who demanded the guest be released. Another Iranian is traveling for diplomatic reasons. Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad heads to New York to speak at Columbia University before taking the podium at the United Nations General Assembly. He happens to be Commander in Chief of the Iranian military which incorporates the elite unit.

Of the recent capture, an Iraqi said "Occasionally Americans do this sort of operation or abduction, which is against international norms." Might this be a message to Mr. Ahmadinejad as he comes to American turf, where he too could be easily grabbed by a government interested in regime change. The Bush administration has toyed with naming the Quds Force a terrorist group. What if he slaps the designation while Mr. Ahmadinejad visits, then has the Iranian PM captured for being supporting terrorism? It might be against international norms, but then again so was pre-emptive war based on fabricated evidence.

So what does everyone do, given the sorry state of world leadership modeled by Bush, Ahmadinejad and Chavez? Well, it seems the best thing to do is act like nothing's happening. With Sec. Rice, Prime Minister al-Maliki and Iranian officials all in attendance, none of the above situations were discussed at a UN meeting focused on future assistance to Iraq. Let's continue to walk gingerly around the elephants in the room, otherwise they'll get mad and stomp on somebody. So, silence please!